Politics & Government

Port San Luis Harbor Commission candidates see budget as big challenge

Four candidates — clockwise from top left: Drew Brandy, Justin Hodges, Mary Matakovich and Brian “Craig” Kreowski — are vying for two open seats on the Port San Luis Harbor District Board of Commissioners.
Four candidates — clockwise from top left: Drew Brandy, Justin Hodges, Mary Matakovich and Brian “Craig” Kreowski — are vying for two open seats on the Port San Luis Harbor District Board of Commissioners. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Four candidates are vying for two open seats on the Port San Luis Harbor District Board of Commissioners in the Nov. 4 general election.

All four candidates are vowing to keep the historic port a viable and environmentally safe facility for boaters and visitors alike and to balance the budget. The commission manages the Port San Luis harbor, the beaches in Avila Beach and the Point San Luis light station.

More than 71,000 voters in San Luis Obispo and the Five Cities area are in the district.

Major projects the district is undertaking include developing the Harbor Terrace campground and recreational facility and restoration of the historic Harford pier.

The Harbor Terrace project is a development on 32 acres near the entrance to Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Scheduled to be completed in 2017, the project will include a campground, restaurant, store and other amenities.

For the past three years, the district has been rehabilitating the Harford pier. This work has included rebuilding the end of the pier and stabilizing a warehouse. A new restaurant is also planned. To date, the district has spent about $1.2 million with much of the work funded by state grants.

Both incumbents are on the ballot, each having served three terms on the commission. They are Drew Brandy of Arroyo Grande and Brian “Craig” Kreowski of Pismo Beach.

Mary Matakovich and Justin Hodges, both of Avila Beach, are challenging them.

Brandy said that maintaining a healthy budget is the commission’s biggest challenge. The district’s annual budget is $4.3 million and the Harbor Terrace development will be a crucial component in maintaining a stable budget, he said.

“I really enjoy doing this, being part of the process and decision-making,” he said. “I am a real team player.”

For Kreowski, the continued restoration of the lighthouse and the renovation of the Harford pier are important priorities. He agrees that the budget is the district’s biggest challenge.

“We are always challenged to make sure that we allocate funds appropriately,” he said. “We do not have a significant budget, so we have to be creative and efficient with the money we have.”

Matakovich would not be a newcomer to the commission. In 2012 she spent 10 months on the panel after being appointed to fill out the remainder of the term of Commissioner Jack Scarbrough, who had died in office.

In addition to maintaining a healthy budget, ensuring that the harbor remains environmentally safe and available to boaters and fishermen is important, Matakovich said. She said she enjoyed being on the commission because it was a way to stay active in the community.

“I have developed a reputation for doing whatever it takes to reach success through a collaborative approach,” she said. “I’m the right person at the right time for this position.”

Hodges said he would like to see better coordination between the three governmental agencies with jurisdiction in Avila Beach — the harbor district, community services district and county.

“I have been a local resident of Avila Beach for a long time,” he said. “I run a small business there and want to see more engagement by the community in the affairs of the district in such matters as parking and events.”

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